Aussie Keeper is Brick Wall for Women’s Soccer Team

An inside look at Kehley Bitzas’ career

For many, the sport of soccer is something just played as a child growing up. But for this  Australian-born player, it has brought her to America for an opportunity.

Early this week Kehley Bitzas spoke with WildcatWire on her experience in America and how she got here. Bitzas is among many international students on campus who have the chance to be a part of an athletic team. Culver-Stockton athletics has a strong international presence on campus and it is easy to find someone from a different part of the world on campus:  in classes, or on the field or court.  Bitzas is a student-athlete who has made an impact for her team since arriving at Culver now two years ago.

It took time, but with the encouragement of my teammates and coaches, I was able to deal with the pressure better

— junior goalkeeper Kehley Bitzas

Bitzas is now going into her third consecutive season being Culver Women soccer’s number 1 choice in the goalkeeping position.

Coming to America is not easy for any student but the added pressure of being a student-athlete can be daunting. Bitzas has done well dealing with that pressure. She gives credit to her coach Tyler Tomlinson who helped her greatly with getting to the U.S. and doing the proper paperwork for a smooth process of signing her to Culver-Stockton College.  Since arriving she has enjoyed the environment, team, and overall atmosphere.

Bitzas has been impressed with the program itself. The discipline that coach Tomlinson stresses makes the players appreciate playing whenever they get a chance to step foot on the field. The program takes pride in holding high standards for itself and that they live in the present and focus on day-to-day achievements and don’t dwell on focusing on long-term goals. It has allowed them to break droughts and to move forward as a team coming together and pushing forward each game against top opponents.

What adds to the pressure of being an international player is coming to a new program and being a starting keeper as a freshman. Being a soccer goalkeeper is arguably the hardest position in the sport.  Add the pressure of walking in as a new player and being from the other side of the globe. “My first year was very difficult mentally. The game was more fast-paced and physical compared to that back home, forcing me to adjust quite quickly” said Bitzas. “It took time, but with the encouragement of my teammates and coaches, I was able to deal with the pressure better.”

She has now been starting ever since with no signs of slowing down.  Bitzas is currently tied for the all-time career shutouts record, and with still another season to go, she is on a clear path to writing her name in the women’s soccer archives for many years.